French Property Owner’s Vocabulary & Essential Terms


Essential Reading

French Property Owner’s Vocabulary & Essential Terms

From paying your utility bills and property taxes, to carrying out general maintenance and repairs, there’s a lot to deal with as a French homeowner. Even if you already speak good French, you will likely come across many unfamiliar words and terms along the way.

If you need help with any legal matters or signing contracts, we recommended using an English-speaking legal representative or a French-English translator. For everything else, we’ve put together all the essential terms and vocabulary.

Essential French Homeowner Terms

Some of the key terms, taxes, and companies that you need to know as a French homeowner.

Assurance habitation: Home insurance, the most common of which is a contrat assurance multirisques habitation– multi-risk/comprehensive home insurance. Typically this includes civil liability insurance (see below).

Responsabilité civile propriétaire: Civil liability insurance – this protects against any damage caused accidentally or unintentionally to a neighbouring property or third party (for example, a tree from your property falling onto a neighbour’s fence) and is the minimum requirement for home insurance in France.

Attestation d’assurance: proof from your insurance company showing you have insurance.

Taxe d’habitation: A local property tax that is paid by the resident of the property or by the homeowner in the case of a vacant property, second home or holiday home.

Taxe foncière: A government property tax payable by all property owners including rental properties and second homes.

Taxe d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (TEOM) – waste/refuse collection charge paid to the local commune.

Contribution à l’audiovisuel public (CAP): TV licence paid by all property owners or inhabitants that have a TV receiver or similar television reception device.

Zone tendue: Areas of France where there is a known housing shortage and tax d’habitation may be higher for owners of second homes or holiday homes. See the full list of zones tendu here.

EDF (Electricité de France): France’s state-owned electricity supplier who remain the country’s largest supplier and offer regulated tariffs.

Enedis: France’s electricity grid operator (a subsidiary of EDF), responsible for connecting and maintaining the electricity lines throughout France.

Engie: France’s state-owned gas supplier who remain the country’s largest supplier and offer regulated tariffs.

SPANC: The public service of non-collective sanitation who are responsible for inspecting non-collective sewage treatment systems and septic tanks.

Valeur locative cadastrale: The cadastral rental value of your property which is used to calculate property taxes.

French Homeowner Vocabulary: Key Phrases

Useful French phases and questions to help during the moving process. You might also want to see our guide to ‘Calling out a plumber or electrician’ and ‘Setting up internet in France’.

I am moving house: Je vais déménager

Can I transfer my electricty/gas/internet contract?: Puis-je faire transférer mon contrat de (d’électricité/gaz/internet) ?

I wish to cancel my electricty/gas/internet contract  : Je souhaite résilier mon contrat (d’électricité/gaz/internet)

What is the length of the contract?: Quelle est la durée du contrat?

Is there a connection charge? Y a t’il des frais de connexion?

Is there a cancellation charge?: Est-ce qu’il y a des frais de résilation?

How soon can you send somebody to install it? Quand pouvez-vous venir faire l’installation?

I would like to set up a phone line in my new house : Je souhaiterais mettre en place ma ligne téléphonique dans ma nouvelle maison.

My address is: Mon adresse est…

Will I receive monthly bills? Mes factures seront-elles mensuelles ?

Can I pay by direct debit? Puis-je payer par prélèvement ?

The house is connected to the mains gas network: La maison est raccordée au réseau de distribution de gaz.

Essential French Homeowners Vocabulary

An A-Z glossary of all the essential words and vocabulary you might come across as a French homeowner. You might also want to consult our essential vocabulary guides for Buying Property, French Insurance, and Renovation and DIY.

Abonnement/ prix d’abonnement – subscription/subscription fee
appartement – apartment
ascenseur – elevator
Avis d’imposition tax statement
Avis de Contrôle inspection report
bureau – office/study, or desk
bail – rental contract
bain/une baignoire – bathtub
bacs à poubelle – waste bins
balcon – balcony
Base d’imposition – tax rate
canapé – couch
chambre – bedroom
chaudière – boiler
chauffage – central
chauffage par le sol – underfloor heating
charges mensuelles – monthly charges
chez moi – my home/house
citerne de gaz – gas tank
Compteur d’eau – water meter
Compteur d’électricité – electricity meter
Consigne –  deposit
Consommation annuelle de reference – annual consumption
conteneurs poubelles – waste bins
cuisine – kitchen
cuisinière – stove
couloir – hall
déchetterie – waste tip or recycling centre
Devis – quote
douche – shower
Entretien – maintainance
escalier – stairway
évier – kitchen sink
factures – bills
fenêtre – window
fioul – oil
four – oven
fournisseur d’électricité – electricity supplier
fournisseur de gaz – gas supplier
Fosse septique – septic tank
garage – the garage
gaz de ville – mains gaz
grenier – attic
jardin – garden
justificatif de domicile – a proof of address
lavabo – bathroom sink
lave vaisselle – dishwasher
location  rental property/rental
Mairie – town hall
maison – house
meuble(s) – furniture/piece of furniture
micro-ondes – microwave
mur – wall
panneaux solaires – solar panels
patio – patio
pièce  room
plafond – ceiling
plans cadastraux – title plans or property
poêle à bois or poêle à granulés – wood- or pellet-burning stove
point de livraison – Site ID for electricity
point de comptage et d’estimation – Site ID for gas
pompe à chaleur – heat pump
porte – door
Prix de l’abonnement – subscription charge
Puissance (du compteur) – power capacity (for electricity)
raccordement – connection (gas/electricity, etc)
radiateurs – radiators
réfrigérateur – refrigerator
relevé de compteur  – meter reading
rideau – curtain
sacs jaunes – yellow recycling bags
salle – room
salle de bain – bathroom
salle à manger – dining room
salle de séjour/salon – lounge/living room
Sèche linge – washing machine
sol – floor
sous-sol – basement
source d’eau – spring or well
tarifs réglementés – regulated tariffs
tarifs de marché – market-based tariffs
tapis – rug
Taxe foncière – property tax
Taxe d’habitation – household tax
téléphone – telephone
télévision – television
Valeur locative – rentable value

Own a Property or Second Home in France?

Our Essential Reading articles cover everything you need to know as a French homeowner from property taxes and home insurance to paying your bills. Perhaps you also need recommendations on removals to France, advice on building and renovations, or tips for managing a second home? FrenchEntrée is here to help! We can even advise on selling your French property.

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